Monday, December 26, 2016

What is an ATR?

"What is an ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve)?" I get that a lot. Mainly from from newbie teachers. Sad that they don't know but can you blame them?

I try to explain it to them. One analogy that I wanted to try is we are like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider or like his character the "Man With No Name" from his Spaghetti Westerns. You know going from town to town or school to school to clean up the mess and then leaves. But in this day and age sure enough someone would misinterpret this analogy as being a gunslinger and then automatically think I am advocating violence so it is better to not share that analogy.

But this is what I think being an ATR is akin to. Richard Kimble (played by David Janssen), from the TV series The Fugitive. Think about it.

As Richard Kimble went from town to town on the run so do we go from school to school more or less on the run. On the run from our past, from the school that had forsaken us.

As Richard Kimble arrives in a new town, he like us as we arrive in a new school, do not know anyone. We both have to adjust to the new surroundings. We both try to keep our pasts quiet.

As times goes on in our new school, we as Richard Kimble had, start feeling more comfortable and seek out and become friendly with a teacher or two. Usually a school outlier.

Richard Kimble, since he was a doctor, had to use his medical knowledge to help someone. We as ATR's use our knowledge of years as educators to help students.

Richard Kimble is an innocent man. He was falsely accused of a crime committed by someone else, the One Armed Man and searching for him to prove his innocence. We as ATR's feel we have been given the shaft by many a proverbial One Armed Man. We are hunting for someone to see past our salary, our past, and the years we have in so we can stop being on the run.

And just as Richard Kimble must leave when things are feeling good, when he is making progress because Lt. Gerard is now on his trail, so do we have to leave our schools when we make an attachment be it with a student, a community, or a school when the ATR Assignment people email us and tell us it is time to move on.

And like Richard Kimble we move on and start the whole thing over again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016



Oh oh. As usual the devil is in the details and the devil ain't looking too good at first glance.

We all got the email from Mike Mulgrew espousing the latest ($5 bet we are going through this again in 2 years) evaluation system. As usual it seems that Mike pulled a George Steinbrenner. He was negotiating against himself.

The Crack Team and I went over Mulgrew's email with a fine tooth comb, but several things raised (and upon further reading I am sure more will) our eyebrows here at SBSB and our raised eyebrows raised our BS perception.

The new system, when fully implemented, will include more authentic student learning measures — from essays and projects to demonstrations of proficiency in physical education and the arts — that genuinely demonstrate what we do as teachers and what our students are learning.

When I was reading this email at lunch today I just happened to be sitting with the gym and music teachers at my school. Fate.

Anyway, proficiency is defined as;
1. the state of being proficient; skill; expertness:
So students must become experts in a sport or physical skill? How do we in the schools, many of whom are athletically spastic decide what is or isn't? How do we decide what is proficient when it comes to the arts? 

I can't sing a note. I can't play an instrument. There is no amount of instruction that will get me to be able to be proficient in either. Now, I do enjoy listening to music. For those that have read my blog you know how much of a Rush fan I am. But does that make me proficient in the arts? Will appreciating a painting make me proficient? 

Same with sports and I will use my son as an example. Since he has been 6 he has been in baseball training. He has been lucky enough to play travel and school baseball. He's a good catcher but he has some things to work on. He has a bit of a long swing that we've been trying to correct for years and he likes to pull the ball. With all the training he's been through, and could it be the instructors fault, should he not be able to overcome those hitches in his swing? Or does he have a mental thing going? Baseball is 90% mental, no? 

But again, to put the onus on the impossible is just wrong. Yes, anyone can throw a baseball or play the riff from "Smoke on the Water," (I can!) but not everyone can pitch like Koufax or sing like Freddie Mercury.

We went into those negotiations saying that any agreement must reduce the impact of standardized test scores

Reduce the impact? I'm so confused here so I checked out ICEUFT Blog for further clarification...
As for the rest of the agreement, it looks (like) test scores will count for half of teacher ratings instead of the current 40%.

I'd like to know more about what James meant, but here is the thing. Aren't we, and I mean we by teachers, parents, educators, grown-ups, etc... holding all the cards here? The opt-out movement is still gaining steam. The public sees through the charade now. Why are we folding when everyone at the table just has a pair and we have a flush?

Under the new system, there will still be four observation options, but we’ve expanded the choices for teachers rated Effective or Highly Effective in the prior year.  Starting in the 2017–18 school year, teachers rated Effective — in addition to those rated Highly Effective — may choose Observation Options 3, which includes a minimum of four informal, unannounced observations plus teachers agree to open their classrooms to colleagues for at least two non-evaluative classroom visits. Highly Effective teachers may also now choose Observation Option 4, which includes a minimum of three informal, unannounced observations plus three times when teachers open their classrooms for a visiting colleague to observe and learn from their teaching.

Isn't the deal of negotiating is to reduce onerous crap that the rank and file doesn't want not to increase it? Here is an example. I own a restaurant in the Bronx. The law requires one (or it can be two) health inspections a year. Now do I as a Bronx restaurant owner go to the city and ask for more inspections a year? NO! But in UFT world more 9pardon the pun) is good and less is very, very bad.

By the way, I am leading the charge to change the law regarding car inspections in New York State. I can't live with myself knowing that my car is inspected only once a year. I insist that my car is inspected bi-monthly.

Seriously, who thinks up this shit that more observations is a good thing and a win?

What is most disturbing is this. The timing of the announcement. Two days before Christmas break, two days right after an executive board meeting in which the high school seats are controlled by MORE. Something stinks and it ain't coming from New Jersey.

Right before vacation so there is no real time for teachers to get together in their schools to discuss what they really think about the new evaluation system and to learn more and to contact the UFT to share what they think. Remember, UFT offices are conveniently closed next week.

This news could have also been shared at exec board meeting this pat Monday but wasn't Heck, at the very least it could have been shared at the very least that an agreement was near and give all members parameters of the agreement. I guarantee you this...

If MORE was not in control of the high school seats this would news would have been out on Monday.

But now comes the hard part for the UFT. Let this process be open and fair! Let there be true debate and feedback in the chapters. Let the DA be a source for free and fair debate. Share all information with all members of each and every executive board. And one more thing.

After a sufficient amount of time (one month?) with the rank and file having access to all sides of the debate allow us, the teachers, the ones closest to the action to vote up or down on this evaluation system. We know what is best for us not 52 Broadway.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

BREAKING!!! Possible New ATR Agreement and News You Should Know!

Let's get something out of the way. Your CAR is safe. The number of sick/personal days is safe. They are not being traded in for FLMA. There is no need to worry. 

Someone, David Irons, the author of the "Vote No on the UFT Contract" Facebook page  has started this rumor which Chaz was quickly able to disembowel.

Why would David start such a rumor? Perhaps someone within the DOE shared this with him? Maybe he was on the bowl in the UFT executive washroom and heard this? Who knows? What David fails to realize is it takes two to tango, and this could have  very well been an opening salvo from the DOE which the UFT promptly shut down. Yes, the UFT (if this offer was made) can be more transparent. This lack of transparency unfortunately allows the likes of David Irons to operate unfettered.

One must consider the source as well. David operates his Facebook page anonymously with zero accountability. We call on David to share post haste with all his readers who he is, what he stands for, and more importantly, who he stands with. 

What David doesn't share readily is that he suckles at the teat of the UFT Solidarity trough. Through UFT Solidarity David has learned the art fear and misrepresentation. David also has major issues (Seriously, MAJOR ISSUES!) with the UFT and needs to psychologically project (Oooh, who do we know that is that way??) with others.

But The Crack Team is surprised that David has only scrapped the very tip of what the UFT is currently negotiating currently. As we know the UFT is in negotiations with the NYCDOE concerning evaluations and ATR's. We here at SBSB wish to share with David Irons what The Crack Team has been able to learn from multiple sources as to the future of the ATR pool.

Starting in September 2017 each ATR...

Required to download an app onto their smart phone to be tracked.

Required to sign a agreement that they are worthless and weak.

Sign a waiver releasing the DOE from assigning bathroom keys. 

Must wear an obedience device like Captain Kirk (going shirtless is optional for male ATR's) did in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" .

Can not park their cars within one quarter mile of any NYCDOE school in which they're assigned.

Must eat lunch no later than 10:35 AM and must only eat food served in the cafeteria.

On days that school is not in session must show up and wait outside until given permission to leave.

Must leave home no later than 5 AM if the ATR takes public transportation.

Will not be required to sign in at the school safety desk. This will be replaced with a retina scan.

Must address all teachers with less than three years experience as either sir or ma'am.

When addressing all teachers with less than three years experience eye contact is forbidden. 

Must walk at least three paces behind any teacher with less than three years experience. 

Must give up their seat in any and all places where teachers congregate to teachers with less than three years experience. 

Must appear for mandatory interviews in which the ATR will be notified 15 minutes beforehand to attend.

And last but not least, must sign away their soul to the new NYCDOE ATR ombudsman which upon death will prevent the NYCDOE from a fulfilling afterlife but rather be rotated between Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven (There is one upside to this. Jews do not have concept of Hell or Purgatory so get ready for an influx of ATR's converting to Judaism).

Surprised David Irons has not found out about this possible ATR news. Surely, he would have reported this as he did his news about the CAR.